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My Garden Diary

July and August 2014

Copyright © 2014 by David E. Ross

Many years ago, when I first started my Web site, I created an online diary of my gardening activities and observations. However, with work and the commute from Hell, I was often so tired I had to choose between maintaining my garden and maintaining my diary. Sometimes, I did neither. In 1998, I stopped my diary and removed the pages from my Web site.

Now I am retired. I am well-rested and have plenty of time to both garden and maintain a diary. This diary is primarily for my own benefit, so that I can look back upon what I did and when. But I thought others might also be interested, so here it is.

Also see What's Blooming in My Garden Now?


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Entries are in reverse order (latest at the top). Daily, I might stoop to pull a weed or use a hose to water some potted plants; however, I don't consider those significant gardening activities. Thus, you will not see daily entries. Also, I might accumulate a few entries before updating this page on the Web.

When plants have well-known common names, their scientific names are given only the first time they appear on this page (entry closest to the bottom). There, the common name is in bold or appears as a link to another Web page.

Dates refer to other entries in the same year as the entry in which they appear unless a different year is given. However, they may refer to entries on prior pages.

This diary has been visited [an error occurred while processing this directive] times since I started it.

Date and Weather Observations and Activities
21 August

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 61-90
Humidity: 37%
Wind: 2-14

Tied down a few new canes on the climbing 'Peace' rose. I should have done this yesterday (and thereby avoided another entry in this diary), but I was tired. This morning, I did my gardening in my pyjamas and then got dressed.

Rain —
This season: 5.90
Days since last: 18

20 August

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 61-87
Humidity: 40%
Wind: 4-9

Rain —
This season: 5.90
Days since last: 17

Treated the dwarf 'Robertson' navel orange with a systemic insecticide drench to control leaf miners. The tangelo is not yet affected. The kumquat — which is infected — cannot be treated right now because it is in bloom; the systemic is quite harmful to the bees that are visiting the kumquat flowers.

Ever since The Tree was repaired (11 May), the back lawn has large dying patches. The red fescue grass (Festuca rubra) cannot withstand foot traffic, and there was heavy foot traffic by the tree service's crew. Today, I broadcast a generous amount of gypsum in the affected areas and started to rinse it in. I will allow the garden sprinkling system to complete the rinsing process, after which I might use a mechanical aerator. Then, I plan to feed the affected areas.

7 August

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 55-86
Humidity: 44%
Wind: 0-11

Rain —
This season: 5.90
Week: 0.03
Days since last: 5

We actually had some measurable rain this past week. No, it was not enough to wet dust; but it was measurable. It was also not enough for me to reduce running my sprinklers. The drought continues.

Fed the dwarf citrus, gardenia, and Australian tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) with ammonium, iron, and zinc sulfates. Both the lemon and orange trees show signs of leafminer, so I gave the lemon a dose of a systemic insecticide drench. Before doing that, I trimmed the tree; it was getting so tall that I was concerned it might outgrow the ability of its constrained roots to support its top growth. I did not have enough insecticide concentrate to also treat the orange; I will buy some very soon. The kumquat also shows some leafminer damage. It is blooming right now, however; and the systemic insecticide will harm the bees that are buzzing in the flowers. Treatment of the kumquat will have to wait until its bloom period is over.

Took cuttings of 'Goodwin Creek Grey' lavender and sage (Salvia officinalis). The potted lavender on the brick path in front of my house died, and I want to replace it. The potted sage in back always seems to die in the spring. Rather than buying a new plant, I thought I would root cuttings to replace the parent. Both the lavender and sage are in the salvia family, cuttings of which generally root quite readily (despite an earlier failure with the lavender (25 May)).

31 July

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 67-99
Humidity: 27%
Wind: 0-11

Rain —
This season: 5.87
Days since last: 95

This past week, heavy rains fell in some parts of southern California; but none fell where I live. Rain here would only mean that my garden would not need to be irrigated with sprinklers. Rain and snow are needed in northern California to fill the reservoirs and supply the California Water Project aquiduct. Last month, I reported that the water in storage in California's 12 largest reservoirs was only 46% of their capacity. That is now down to 40%. No snowpack remains to melt and fill those reservoirs.

It has been so hot letely — nine consecutive days with temperatures above 90°F — that some plants have wilted between the once-in-three-days that the sprinklers run. In most summers, I would increase the amount of time for each sprinkler valve and also briefly run them to cool the soil and plants at 1:00pm on the day before they actually irrigate my garden. With the drought so severe, however, I am only providing enough irrigation to keep the garden alive but not enough for plants to really thrive.

Fed the roses with a commercial fertilizer that also contains a systemic insecticide.

21 July

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 58-82
Humidity: 45%
Wind: 0-14

Rain —
This season: 5.87
Days since last: 85

The artemisia seems to be surviving (20 Jul).

Harvested dill (Anethum graveolens) to dry for use when the herb is out of season. I then gave its flower pot a very light dose of fertilizer to see if that encourages additional growth.

Placed a small amount of poison snail bait in the oblong pot with Alstroemeria and inside the miniature fence around the hollyhocks (11 Jun).

20 July

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 60-83
Humidity: 63%
Wind: 0-11

Rain —
This season: 5.87
Days since last: 84

Yesterday morning, I went to inspect the rooted artemisia cuttings that I planted just two days earlier (17 Jul). Some creature had dug them up! Since they were not severely wilted and they still had roots attached, I replanted them. After watering them, I searched the back yard for tortoise droppings, which I placed around the artemisia to discourage other animals. Today, there was no new damage. This is a recurring problem (e.g., 27 Oct ). I wish I knew what kind of animal was doing this. I have seen squirrels, lizards, raccoons, and opossums in my back yard plus many different birds.

Last night, we had rain! Unfortunately, it was too little to wet dust; it was even to little to register on local rain guages. Thus, it has been almost three months since the last measurable rain.

Tied down some long canes on the climbing 'Peace' rose.

Trimmed 'Goodwin Creek Grey' lavender (Lavandula lanata × dentata) in the circular bed in back. These shrubs quickly grow large, crowding adjacent plants and encroaching onto the paths surrounding the bed. I want to keep the lavender, but I also want to keep the other plants in that bed. This means frequent trimming.

Also trimmed the candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) that was starting to hide the stepping stones separating the camellia and east beds in back.

17 July

Scattered clouds, mostly sunny (sometimes hazy), and warm

Temp: 56-81
Humidity: 46%
Wind: 0-10

Rain —
This season: 5.87
Days since last: 81

Fed the dwarf citrus — including the tangelo, to which I gave an acid treatment just three days ago — with commercial citrus food and a trace of zinc sulfate. I also fed the same to the gardenia (G. jasminoides 'Veitchii'), which is in full bloom.

While feeding the dwarf kumquat (Fortunella margarita 'Nagami'), I discovered that its drip irrigation emitter had been pulled out of its large flower pot and that the tubing had been badly chewed. I suspect squirrels, which have also been gnawing at the sprinkler heads for my shrubs in front and back. Fortunately, there was enough slack in the tubing that I was able to cut away the damaged section and splice the two remaining parts together.

Planted the rooted artemisia 'Powis Castle' (A. arborescens × absinthium) cuttings (1 Jun) in the two places in the back lawn where former artemisia died.

14 July

Cloudy, occasional hazy sun, and hot

Temp: 64-93
Humidity: 62%
Wind: 0-12

Rain —
This season: 5.87
Days since last: 78

While nighttime fog often raises the relative humidity to 100%, a noon reading of 62% is very humid for this area. The local forecast indicated a 20% probability of a thunderstorm. While tending my garden, I even felt a few rain drops.

Swept the driveway and public sidewalk in front. Both had significant leaves, twigs, and other "fallout" from the adjacent trees. I suspect much of the mess was caused by birds and squirrels searching in the shrub beds and pink clover lawn (Persicaria capitata) for food.

The tangelo (Citrus reticulata × paradisi) in back shows significant chlorosis. It gets the same acidic fertilizer as the other three dwarf citrus, none of which have this problem. However, the tangelo is in a raised bed with its roots going down into the native soil of my garden while the other citrus are in large flower pots with a special potting mix that has the excellent drainage require by all citrus. Today, I gave the tangelo a generous amount of gypsum, which should improve the drainage, along with soil sulfur and sulfates of iron, magnesium, and zinc. Later in the week, I plan to feed all the citrus with a commercial citrus food.

10 July

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 57-88
Humidity: 45%
Wind: 3-12

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more …

Shakespeare

Or onto My Hill again. This time, spraying Roundup on those weeds not killed when they were whacked (15 Jun). I also sprayed weeds growing in the decomposed granite paths and — where there is no ground cover or dense planting — in the east bed.

Rain —
This season: 5.87
Days since last: 74

4 July

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 64-97
Humidity: 33%
Wind: 2-15

Climbed My Hill again, this time to scatter some fertilizer (27-0-6 lawn food) to rejuvenate the African daisy (Osteospermum fruticosum) and English ivy (Hedera helix) that were affected when I had the weeds whacked (15 Jun). I waited until today because I plan to run the sprinklers on My Hill tomorrow. climbing My Hill with a heavy bucket of fertlizer was a challenge. It seemed that for every two steps I took upwards resulted in my sliding one step back down.

Rain —
This season: 5.87
Days since last: 68

2 July

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 57-91
Humidity: 40%
Wind: 0-13

Climbed My Hill to tie up some of the shoots on the grape vines and to cut back others. Since I thought the grapes were beginning to ripen, I hung some old compact discs from the 'Flame' and 'Perlette' vines to keep the birds away. However, I discovered that the birds or other creatures had already consumed all of the 'Perlette' grapes except for one small bunch, which I picked. For some reason, the 'Black Monukka' vine has not yet borne fruit even though it started more vigorously as a new plant than the 'Perlette', which had a nice crop last year.

Rain —
This season: 5.87
Days since last: 66

Weather data are from the Cheeseboro (CHE) weather station, about 2 miles ENE of my house.

The high temperature (°F) is daytime for the indicated date; the low temperature (°F) is for the previous night.

The relative humidity is at noon. (In my garden, it is likely higher than reported, a result of regular irrigation.)

Wind speeds (mph) are average (not peak) low and high, midnight to midnight (subject to later correction for diary entries posted before the end of the day). I also indicate peak wind gusts parenthetically when they are significantly high.

Rain is in inches. Season is the cumulative amount of rainfall from 1 October until 30 September of the following year. Week is the cumulative amount of measurable rainfall from noon seven days ago until noon of the indicated date. If no rain fell in that period, Days since last is reported.

Characterization of the weather (e.g., Clear, sunny, and warm) is purely subjective; for example, "warm" might occur with higher temperatures than "hot" if the former occurs with lower humidity and more breezes than the latter. Also, a day that would normally be characterized as "mild" might instead be "warm" if the immediately previous days were quite cold. Finally, such characterization reflects when I was actually outside and gardening and ignores changes that occur while I am inside.

The signature line I use when writing messages about my garden includes the following:

Climate: California Mediterranean
Sunset Zone: 21 -- interior Santa Monica Mountains with some ocean influence (USDA 10a, very close to Sunset Zone 19)
See also The Climate.
May-June 2014
March-April 2014
January-February 2014
November-December 2013
September-October 2013
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